Five Cavaliers players finished in double-figure scoring and a sixth had double-figure rebounds on the way to an 81-48 nonconference men’s basketball win over Berea at the Prior Convocation Center.
The victory on Virginia-Wise’s annual Kids Day came in a front of a crowd of over 2,500, including about 2,300 enthusiastic middle and primary school students from throughout Wise County.
FUN ALL AROUND
“I know the kids love it, but I think our players love it just as much or more. Obviously, for us, it’s a neat thing. Just a neat thing for the school and the community in general,” Virginia-Wise coach Blake Mellinger said.
“It’s a great experience,” said the Cavaliers’ Eric Okenchi, who scored 13 points — including four from two slam dunks that ignited the crowd early in the game. “The kids showed us love by cheering and enjoying the game. We were blessed to have them at our game. It was a great experience.”
Freshman Briggs Parris finished with 14 points, including 12 from four 3-pointers, in front of the biggest home crowd of the season for the Cavs.
“We just wanted to come out and just make sure they had a lot of fun and put on a show for them,” Parris said of the students.
Cameron Whiteside, another freshman for Virginia-Wise, finished with a game-high 17 points. He said the energy from the crowd helped the team.
“It was a great feeling to have the arena full today,” Whiteside said. “It brought a lot of energy to us.”
DEFENSE SPURS THE OFFENSE
Defensive play helped the Cavs’ offense in transition. Whiteside helped out with three blocked shots.
“I just tried to get in the passing lanes and play help defense,” he said. “So the blocks just came because I was just in the right position.”
Berea fell behind 6-4 with 16:25 left in the first half and trailed the rest of the way.
“I thought we were a little sluggish in the first half, more offensively than defensively,” Mellinger noted. “In the second half we did a much better of coming out and executing and we were able to extend the lead and finish it fairly comfortably.”
ADDING UP POINTS
Kaeleb Carter, with 12 points, and Jordan Pointer, with 10, added to Virginia-Wise’s offensive production.
Pointer also had nine rebounds, and Rahji Langford had 11 rebounds and six assists.
Sophomore Mitchell Embree had 11 points and nine rebounds to lead the Mountaineers (11-11).
Virginia-Wise is back in Mountain East Conference play Thursday at home against league-leading West Liberty. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.